March 24, 1953 – March 20, 2013
Steve Hawkins was a quiet and thoughtful presence in MOGA for three decades. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, he represented the outfitting industry well in the 1990s on the Mountain Lion Working Group, an effort that was started by the Fish and Wildlife Commission to address concerns about overcrowding and anti-hunting challenges to the sport of mountain lion hunting. In this highly emotional atmosphere, Steve was a thoughtful, steady spokesman for hunters and outfitters. He was truly an expert on lions; he once estimated that he had treed some 2,000 mountain lions in his lifetime.
Steve was raised in the Yaak River Valley, and spent his life in northwest Montana. Challenged by severe dyslexia, he became acquainted with his teachers at Libby High School by taking them hunting and fishing on weekends. They discovered a very bright young man behind a shy exterior.
When he graduated from high school in 1972, Steve began working for outfitter Lloyd West. He bought the business when Lloyd retired in the mid-70s, becoming the youngest outfitter in the Bob. Steve continued to expand the operation and was at one time the largest outfitter in the Bob Marshall while also operating Riverstone Lodge outside of the wilderness, and running other hunting operations in the Cabinet Mountains and in British Columbia.
Maintaining the lodge and outfitting business was a family affair. Steve’s wife, Kathy; brothers Mike and Rick; and children, Matthew, Heather and Megan all pitched in to help keep his large and far-flung operation running like a well-oiled machine. He sold his hunting business in the Bob Marshall in 2001, but continued his summer fishing and floating business on the South Fork for several more years. He also retained his hunting operations in the Cabinet Mountains.
Around the time he sold his Bob Marshall hunting business, Steve was introduced to working clay with his hands as a means of stress relief. He discovered that he could mold very lifelike animals. Thus, his second career was born. He knew nothing about the bronze business, but he had an art collector client who did. He threw himself into the creation and sale of his bronze sculptures. By the time he passed away in March of 2013, Steve had gained national recognition for his art. His works are displayed in public and private collections throughout the country. Kathy markets his work.
As Steve’s art career took off, he decided it was time to write about his outfitting years. The result was “When the West Was Wild,” published in 2011. His spellbinding tales and vivid descriptions are written just as if Steve were spinning a yarn across the kitchen table.
Steve met his final challenge, renal cancer, with his typical take charge attitude. He continued working on his book and his art creations. He sold the final piece of his outfitting business, staying on as an adviser.
Steve was awarded the Pioneer award by MOGA in 2012. He was also recognized by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks for his 17 years of service on the Region 1 Citizen Advisory Committee, and for his involvement with the Mountain Lion Working Group.
Steve passed away March 20, 2013. His obituary sums up his life well: “Life was an adventure for Steve, and he lived it with gusto.”
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